Archive for June, 2011

Future Ed Tech Revolution

June 23, 2011

No predictions are possible. At least this seems plausible.

Race and Politics

June 23, 2011

For those of us interested in this issue, and concerned about the potentially corrosive effects of racial conflict, this is a disheartening analysis.

And it’s not just analysis on the right. On a slightly different political axis, John McWhorter and Glenn Loury talk about some of our cultural difficulty in talking about race.


Thinking Like an Economist

June 23, 2011

Some suggestions on how economic thinking might stimulate helpful thinking about education. Concepts like sunk costs, marginal costs (slightly tweaked), incentives, and status quo bias can be useful tools.

Lessons from Netflix Streaming for Education

June 23, 2011

An interesting discussion of Netflix streaming and how it may be changing student expectations and responses to class materials. The key observations:

The Discouraging EDU Lessons from Netflix Streaming:

  • Delivery Method Trumps Content Quality
  • Mobility is More Important Than Quality
  • Platform Flexibility is More Important Than Quality
  • Ease of Use is More Important Than Quality

A Moral Trageday

June 21, 2011

Here’s a horrific fact: since the late 1970s, 163 million girls have been aborted for sex selection purposes. For a fuller discussion, see this essay. Seems like feminists would be more worried about this.

Conan O’Brien’s Commencement Speech 2011

June 20, 2011

There’s a good amount of humor and a few important points in these reflections. I especially found his personal insight of failure, redefining goals and related matters to be encouraging.

You Might Be an Evangelical Reject If…

June 20, 2011

A bit of somewhat comedic reflection. Not all of these work equally well (and I suspect most of us would think some of them are more important/problematic than others). But as we sometimes seem to be in the mood to create very precise and carefully defined boundaries for our identity (and like to promote ourselves to the gatekeepers of evangelical identity), it might enable us to talk a bit more openly about when to do that, and how to do it well and charitably.

The Messy Desk

June 20, 2011

Here’s a selection of pictures of messy offices. I like that part of it. The last picture is a bit of a cheap shot (it is the oval office and probably doesn’t reflect what Obama’s office might look like on his own – it’s a bit ceremonial, I think).

As an¬†ideological¬†counterpoint, here’s Cornel West’s office as another example (though to be fair, Nat Hentoff is rightly classified left of center).

Ode to the Printed Book

June 20, 2011

Here’s an ode to the printed book and a rejection of the Kindle. While the sentiment is nice in some ways, in the end it probably doesn’t work.

Judaism, Commerce and Free Market

June 17, 2011

This afternoon, attended a fascinating discussion of Jewish approaches to economics. Despite the absence of full-orbed discussions of economics in Jewish literature, there are principles of private property that are relevant. Lots of interesting observations; I’ll mention a couple.

  • The transition from agricultural to non-agricultural contexts leads to certain kinds of adaptation. The tithe changed (from 10% of crops to 10% of income) and the laws of Jubilee and Sabbath changed (in fact, were mostly discarded as irrelevant) as they were grounded in agricultural society and ancient notions of land ownership as lordship and the slavery principle.
  • The prohibition of usury was not extended to all interest. The Jews distinguished between usury (lending to take advantage) and investment (where interest was a reflection of expected profit).
  • Regulation against competition were part of ancient Roman and Jewish culture – but were driven by limitations of merchandise mobility and the threat to livelihood in a relatively non-mobile population. Yet these prohibitions were not absolute – competition for intellectual property (e.g., teaching) and perfume (helpful to insure men got a wife) was permitted!
  • A distinction was suggested between charity (in the more simple sense of aid, financial help) and generosity (acting with a view to help others, not merely for self-interest). The suggestion was that generosity, like honesty, is a virtue that fosters development.
All interesting observations that require some processing, but that’s what events like these are for!